PAINTSVILLE — The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) was formed in 1917 for the purpose of governing the schools in the state who participated in athletic competitions. They established rules for the schools to follow in athletic competitions and outside of competition to promote fair play.
In Eastern Kentucky, a major KHSAA investigation occurred in 1926 that resulted in the awarding of the 15th District basketball tournament to Paintsville High School, the first time the school ever hosted the event.
On February 13 of that year, Thomas J. Greenlee, coach of the Pikeville College team, sent in a letter of protest citing by-law Number 12 concerning the eligibility of the Pikeville High School squad. The rule read, “When a team or school pays a salary to any player that school shall be suspended from the Association for the remainder of that school year; on second offense it shall be suspended from the association for the incumbency of the principal.” What was in question was the alleged payment of $140 to former Pikeville player James Johnson.
Along with his letter of protest Coach Greenlee submitted an affidavit of Mr. Johnson to the KHSAA which stated in part that T. W. Oliver, principal of Pikeville High, made a verbal contract with James Johnson to engage in athletics for which service he was to receive $30 per month for three months and an additional $50 to pay off a bank note at Day and Night National Bank in Pikeville. However, Principal Oliver submitted a second affidavit of James Johnson to the KHSAA on February 22, 1926 in which he denied he ever received any money or anything of value for his service as an athlete at Pikeville High School. Four other affidavits were submitted by Mr. Oliver which all said that no one who played or ever played athletics at Pikeville High were ever paid for their services. One statement even said that “if James Johnson made an affidavit to the effect that Pikeville High School was paying him one cent or other amount that same is false.”